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Movements to Avoid with 30-10-30?

Dr. Darden,

As we’re substituting movements are there any that you would advise us to avoid using the 30-10-30 method? I think I read a comment in another thread where you advised to be careful with the abduction and adduction machines.

One of the reasons I’m asking is that we have a new student in the high school where I teach who is a 6-10 8th grader and only weighs 140 pounds. He plays basketball and desperately needs to gain size and strength. He’s projected to reach the 7-2 range. I have worked some with the coaches and would like to steer them toward your program. After hearing about the weight room injury to Ralph Sampson (7-4 All American) brought on by full squats safety is a huge concern for all of us.


David Sears

Just out of curiosity, what are you doing with his nutrition?

He has a host family and from what I understand they’re just trying to get him to eat a lot of good healthy food. He’s from Kenya and when he first got here he was hesitant to ask for seconds or take a lot. We’re in rural KY so I would imagine it’s Southern, country style cooking. There are 3 high school basketball players in that house so I can’t imagine what the grocery bill would be.

Maybe I am way too old school, but I’d keep him to a minimum with the weights. I’d want to wait for him the reach closer to his eventual height. Have him running the bleachers, doing pull ups, and pushups, all the time keeping him focused on a good diet with sufficient nutrients and calories to continually gain weight (good weight, not fat).

Cool - sounds like he has a good support system. My mind always goes to “they need to shovel food down”, and it’s easy to forget there are so many places in the world where that’s not an option. Hopefully he can get to a place where he’s comfortable eating more, because a 7 foot body needs a lot of fuel, haha.


As you know, you can get hurt on almost any strength-training exercise or machine, especially if your form is fast and jerky.

30-10-30 is adaptable to most exercises. However, as I’ve mentioned, deadlifts can be problematic to some. And hip adduction and hip abduction, because of their short range of movement, can be difficult to perform. Other short-range exercises include the wrist curl and shoulder shrug.

Your basketball player should do well with 30-10-30. But be conservative.

Curious what the difference would be between a DB squat in 30-10-30 and a Trap Bar DL ?

Trap bar is easier to hold, which is probably an advantage during those long negatives.

More generically, the trap bar also forces your arms a little wider, which would allow for a somewhat wider stance or knees-out positioning, if that was your preference. With dumbbells hanging straight down from my shoulders, I feel like I need to take a pretty narrow stance to avoid banging the dumbbells against my legs.

Dr Darden recommends that you don’t use any more than 25 pound dumbells on the DB Squat.
I believe the main reason for this is that once you start using heavier dumbells you start involving the upper body muscles in increasingly greater amounts as the weight increases , resulting in a lesser lower body stimulus , even though a heavier weight is being used.
The same problem also exists with trap bar deadlifts.
So for them to be effective I would suggest that one uses a far lighter load than typical so that the focus of the movement is on the quads and glutes with minimal upper body involvement.
That would certainly be my way of thinking if I was to use a trap bar deadlift with 30-10-30.


I wonder if anyone (Dr. Darden?) has a video of dumbbell squats done 30-10-30 style? 2x25 lbs just doesn’t seem like a lot of weight for a lower body exercise, so it might be interesting to see the preferred technique.

I think the 25lb dumbbells would probably be more than enough if you used a sissy squat bench.

IMO as you are diving in/not ramping up in weight then avoid the flat barbell bench press, just do any machine variation, dumbells etc

I am a huge proponent of 30-10-30 but I would be very, very, cautious of introducing strenuous weight training to this individual at his age and potential. Let him achieve more of his natural height/weight first. Different sport, but similar view, when I was recruited for college football, all they cared about was speed, height, talent. The quote was “we can always put the weight and strength on them”. Same when I boxed and coached boxing, the last thing you want to do is add weight on young boxers. My guess is that if you spoke with a respectable college basketball recruiter he would not advise that you focus on putting weight on him (by using bodybuilding methods) at this stage of his development. Again, I would be very, very cautious, as you could be jeopardizing this kid’s only “shot”. Get him the best nutrition and best basketball program you can get him into.

Thanks Mark. Your thoughts on this might be right either way, but can I ask where you got this recommendation to limit the weight used for DB squats? I see the reference to ’ strong men … seldom used dumbbells that weighed more than 25-pounds’ in the ‘quad workout that might kill you’ article, and of course maybe Dr. Darden can clarify this, but I started out doing these 30-10-30 with 35lb, after first per-exhausting my quads with 30-10-30 leg extensions, and I fear I am going to need a lot more weight in the end.

Dr Darden says not to use more than 25 pound dumbells in his latest book "Extreme HIT 30-10-30 "


Thanks Mark. I see that now.

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No leg press machine, but now that I am forced to think about it, if I add the wall squats from the 'quad workout that might kill you’ article to my leg ext/dumb squats, I think that should finish off my thighs for sure.

What about using hip belt squats as the major compound leg movement?

Hip belt squats should work well.

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Regarding 30-10-30 dumbbell squats with limited weight: Doing them as part of a several exercise complex is different than just doing a single set as a stand alone exercise. In the quad killer routine, it seems to be used mostly as a pre-exhaust for what I assume is a somewhat heavier set of leg presses.

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